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BAIT FLIPPERS

BAIT FLIPPERS

Like so many simple, but effective ideas, Bait Flippers were born out of a very clear and present problem that needed to be solved quickly. It was the February trials at Chew Valley a few years back and my boat partner Andy Black and I were suffering from a number of very lightly hooked pike, many of which were coming adrift during the fight. From the teeth marks on the baits, and the ones that we were landing, it was obvious that the pike were picking up the baits in the extremities of their jaws and often getting hooked in the bony top jaw, rather than the scissors. As the fish came to the boat all they had to do was shake their heads and oftentimes the hooks would simply fall out. We tried shortening the baits so that they couldn’t be picked up at the free end, but this didn’t make a meaningful difference to our results. What we felt was needed was a slow-sinking bait that could be sucked in by the pike more easily, ensuring that the bait was fully in the mouth as easily as possible.

 

Our opening gambit was to start adding some buoyancy to the baits in the form of either polyballs  wired to the top treble, or foam inserted down the throat. Both of these methods tend to produce a baits that sits head-up off the bottom. Even though the baits were still sinking, the pike definitely didn’t like this presentation. In fact, getting a take of any type on Chew fishing like this proved almost impossible. Why this should be the case I have no idea. These tactics have worked well on numerous other venues, but at Chew they simply didn’t work, and believe me we tried! 

 

Messing about with what I had to hand, I tied up a few traces with a length of foam stick threaded on to the wire between the hooks. Testing the baits over the side of the boat as best as I could it soon became apparent just how little foam I need to make the bait sink very slowly, but that having the foam mounted this way made trimming it to length quite tricky. Still, out it went on one rod and soon a nicely-hooked double was in the boat. No more bites came my way that day, but things were looking up. 

 

Back at home I tried rigging the foam in different ways and also played about with rigged baits in a little fish tank I keep for just such things. What was interesting was that the baits as well as being very easy to fine-tune also landed nine-times-out-of-ten with the hooks facing upwards, away from any detritus on the bottom. 

 

I showed the idea to another friend who suggested using mini cable ties to attach the foam instead of threading it on. This turned out to work an absolute treat as the ties could be tightened down stopping the foam from moving but without damaging the wire. The foam could also be added or removed mid-session if required. 

 

Chew is not the place that you want to be messing about with you ideas if truth be known, but with just one more days fishing on their for the spring I wanted to use the foam rig on one rod and a normal bottom bait on the other. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say, so a couple of smelts were rigged-up and with the boat anchored on a good spot, we would see what the fish made of it. 

 

The first run was not long in coming and soon I was contemplating unhooking what looked like a good double at the side of the boat. Andy reckoned it was a bit bigger than I thought, so we netted it and it did indeed turn out to be a nice twenty. Those spring fish are so short and fat they can catch you out like that. The hooks were nicely positioned in the scissors and were easily removed. 

 

The next run came to the other rod and this one fought in much the same way; slow and deep, just plodding around before popping up by the side of the boat. I got a good look at the fish as she waddled towards the net and put the weight at mid-twenty this time. Then, just as her head touched the front of the net the hooks fell out. At the time I was pretty philisophical about the whole thing. It was a big fish, but not THAT big by Chew standards. As the day wore on though the gnawing feeling that she could have been a bit bigger than I had first thought - oh well. 

 

That was it for the day, except for a jack, but it had been an interesting little trial. One that I repeated several times over that year, eventually coming to the conclusion that there was a lot going for what had, by now, been christened the ‘Bait Flipper’. Showing the guys at PikePro the concept they really liked it and so we decided to add it to the range. Of course, all we are talking about is some buoyant foam sticks and some mini zip ties. You can make them yourself easily enough, but for a couple of quid you can buy them from us and have the right size and buoyancy of foam for a lot less hassle. 

 

Having used the Bait Flippers a lot over the last couple of years I have come to see them as an important part of my rigs, especially in the spring. At the time I was of the opinion that it was the low water temperature that were slowing the pike down, leading to the poor hook-holds when they lethargically sucked in the baits. Whilst this is no doubt true, and has been backed up with other peoples underwater filming, I also think there are times when pressured pike can be quite finicky and not suck up deadbaits with any degree of confidence. You often see this on Chew after the first couple of weeks of the Autumn trials, when you get all manner of slow and dithering takes, along with the odd fish dropping off. Whatever the reason, Bait Flippers are a partial answer.

 

Buoyancy also helps deal with weed and detritus on the bottom. Having the hooks facing upwards makes them much less likely to get caught up, which can certainly work in your favour. 

 

So that is the story and rationale for the Bait Flippers. I have used them a lot now, especially when the water is very cold and they make a significant improvement to my catches. If you find yourself suffering the same problems why not give them a go?

 

Tight lines, 

 

Paul Garner


Published:
24/11/2017 17:01:00

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